|Where do you stand on Church schools?
11 Feb 2002
During the Report Stage of the Education Bill on Feb 6th,the former Labour Cabinet Minister Frank Dobson, supported by the Liberal Democrats moved an amendment which would severely constrain the freedom of church schools to decide their own admissions policy.
Proposed New Clause 1 began
"It shall not be required as a condition of a pupil being admitted to a maintained school, that:
a) he must attend or abstain from attending a place of religious worship
b) his parents or guardians must attend or abstain from attending a place of religious worship
c) the pupil, his parents or guardian(s) belong to any particular faith or denomination"
The proposal went on to provide for local education authorities (not schools or the church} to require church schools to admit between 20% and 75% of pupils from a particular faith.
I and my Conservative colleagues opposed this new clause because we believe it is essential that church schools should continue to enjoy the freedom to decide their own admissions policy and to determine the religious, pastoral and educational ethos of the school.
In spite of over 40 Labour MPs voting with the Liberal Democrats to limit the freedom of your school to decide its own admissions arrangements, the proposal was defeated in the Commons. You can rest assured that I and the Conservative Party will continue to fight to defend the freedom and religious independence of Church schools.